FULL FIELD – Bathtub toy ducks float down Granite Creek toward a finish line at Halibut Point Recreation Area Saturday afternoon during the annual Sitka Rotary Club duck race. First place, two Alaska Airlines round-trip tickets, were won by Ron and Leah Kari. This year all 3,500 ducks were sold by June 14. Money raised at the event is donated to dozens of Sitka non-profits. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Assembly to Convene By Videoconference

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer

The City and Borough Assembly will hold its first-ever “remote” meeting tonight, in line with the state mandate issued Monday to limit the size of group gatherings.

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at Harrigan Centennial Hall, with a number of COVID-19 virus issues on the agenda. Only a few city staff members will be present in person, and the Assembly members will take part from their separate locations in the group videoconferencing program Zoom.

One of the agenda items is a resolution “ordering people in the City and Borough of Sitka to hunker down related to COVID-19.” 

The Sentinel newspaper rack in front of the Barracks Street office has its door removed. Newspapers will be free during the emergency. (Sentinel Photo)

 

The resolution takes note of the six confirmed COVID cases so far in Ketchikan, and one in Juneau, and Sitka’s direct air travel connections to those communities.

In the Be It Resolved section, is a “stay home order,” a “noncritical business closure order,”  and a “social distancing order for critical businesses or entities.”

The resolution and meeting agenda are available on cityofsitka.org.

Because of the state-mandated limit of 10 individuals in a group, City Clerk Sara Peterson said that she, City Attorney Brian Hanson and City Administrator John Leach, along with KSCT-TV’s Dan Etulain, will be the only ones in the Centennial Hall meeting room.

The session is technically open to the public, as required by law, but Peterson today emphasized the governor’s mandated limit on gatherings to 10 people. (Health Mandate 9.1, stopping operations of personal care services and limiting gatherings to up to 10 people.)

“We’re also trying to follow the Centers for Disease Control guidelines on social distancing, and limits on group gatherings,” she said. She said she is also trying to comply with Sunday’s joint recommendation from the local Emergency Operations Center to “shelter in place.”

But public testimony is welcome.

“We’re highly encouraging folks to email me by 4 p.m.,” Peterson said. The emailed testimony will be read into the record at the meeting.

Peterson said city staff will do a dry run of the system this afternoon and make adjustments as needed in time for the meeting.

The public can watch and listen to the meeting, which will be live-streamed on the city website, or listen to the broadcast as usual on KCAW-FM. (The Sentinel will livestream or provide a link to a livestream on its Facebook page, and cover the meeting remotely.)

Also on the agenda is first reading of an ordinance for employee benefits that may vary from personnel policies, “specifically authorizing and ratifying up to 14 days of paid administrative leave per the Municipal Administrator’s flowchart in response to COVID-19 essential operations.”

There is also a direction/discussion item, placed on the agenda by the administrator, “for Assembly communication with the Municipal Administrator and Municipal Attorney to discuss response powers of the Municipal Administrator during emergency declaration and clarification of items in the ‘shelter in place’ news release.”

A few routine items are on the agenda, including committee appointments and liquor and marijuana licenses; as well as:

– final reading of a budget ordinance to increase appropriations by $88,500 for legal expenses regarding the Sitka Police Department litigations. Funds will come out of the general fund. Two of the three lawsuits related to the police department have been settled.

– final reading of an ordinance adding $30,000 for the Crescent Harbor Lightering Float Repairs. These funds will come from the Harbor Fund working capital.

– final reading of an ordinance to add a definition of “bulk retail” to the zoning code. If approved, bulk retail will be a conditional use in the Industrial zone. The request was made by Sitka Bulk Goods, which is located on Price Street in an Industrial zone. The business will need to apply for a conditional use permit through the Planning Commission, planning staff said.

 

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-6-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 1:25 p.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 28

Total statewide – 1,166

Total (cumulative) deaths – 16

Active cases in Sitka – 6 (3 resident; 3 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 12 (10 resident; 2 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 74.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

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Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020

NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHERS

TO READERS AND ADVERTISERS

For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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